Traditions for Today: Gardening With Kids

New and time-honored traditions for families to share and enjoy for years to come.

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Planting Tomatoes

Maybe you remember the little things-your mother baking a luscious chocolate cake on every birthday. Or maybe you recall the big yearly reunions, with enough food to feed multiple generations.

"Traditions give us a sense of the past, present and future," says Robin Stern, PhD, a Columbia University psychologist. "They make us think about where we've come from and where we're going." Here's how a few families are creating traditions that strengthen the ties that bind them together.

Make it fun. One mother turned a cheerless chore into a cheerful tradition after looking at the autumn leaves burying her backyard. "I got tired of nagging everyone to rake," she said. So she gave her husband and kids some giant bags and asked who could bag the most leaves in two hours. "We got competitive and had a ball." They finished over baked apples straight from the oven, and as this grateful mom added a scoop of vanilla ice cream to everyone's plate, she suggested the family repeat the event every year. There were no arguments. Now the family picks one day during each long Thanksgiving weekend to schedule a yearly "leaf blast."

Set a standing date. Catherine, a mother of two, schedules one Friday night each month to bring the family together and watch a DVD. "It's become a tradition-and the only time I let them eat in the family room," she says. "The kids think it's really special." Another mother has turned Sunday night dinners into a family tradition by serving gourmet meals on her best china, treating her family like royalty.

Let your love show. Rachel in Connecticut also makes a tradition of Sunday suppers, employing a centuries-old Israeli custom that celebrates the strength family members bring to each other. While she prepares the meal, she cuts a six-inch fabric square for everyone who's there. In the middle of each square she puts a half-teaspoon of whichever spices dominate the dinner; then she ties each piece of fabric into tiny bundles.

During the ebb and flow of the week, these precious little bundles serve as reminders of the love and support all family members have at home.

Courtesy of Right@Home™

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